South Orangetown Central School District

Author. Illustrator. Graphic Designer. Web Designer. Publisher. Cottage Lane Elementary School hosted a very special virtual visit today with one person who does all these jobs AND speaks with students!

“We were very excited to have Daniel Jude Miller join us and explain that there is a writing process associated with everything we do and that practice is the key to improving as writers and artists,” noted Assistant Principal Rob Schliessman, who added that CLE students have had the opportunity to connect with many authors and illustrators virtually this year.

Graphic Novel and Opinion Writing units in the ELA curriculum were the touchpoints for Miller’s visit, which focused on his creative journey and process. Although he had aspired and trained to become a commercial artist, his “dream job” as an editorial illustrator fell short of his expectations. On his way home from work one afternoon, his imagination was ignited by steam escaping from an open manhole on a city street.

“I started to think about whether there could be monsters living under the streets and wondered what could be hidden in hot dog carts. Could it be possible that there was a monster that made its home in the Statue of Liberty?” he recalled.

Miller, who had never tried writing a story, decided to “level up” and teach himself new skills to bring his idea to life. Ultimately, that inspiration on the street led to “Monsters in Manhattan”–a four-book series, game and website. “At the beginning, you don’t know how big an idea can get,” he advised.

A key rule for writing: Revisions! “It’s normal for everyone to write a story, then write it again, fix it and improve it. Every time, your story gets a little bit better. A story may go through 20 versions until it’s complete,” explained Miller.

Daniel Jude Miller